Summary: The Life of Joseph Making Sense of Suffering Genesis 37
The Life of Joseph
Making Sense of Suffering
October 16, 2016
This week we start our final series in Genesis, The Life of Joseph, in chapters 37-50. Joseph is seventeen, the second youngest in the family, and the favored son. One day after he has been tending the flocks with his brothers, Joseph brings back a bad report to their father (2). Then Israel (Jacob) made him a special robe, probably because he was the favored son and kept his father informed about his brother’s doings. This favoritism created hostility, causing the brothers to hate Joseph so much that they could not even talk to him without there being conflict (3-4). Then God favors Joseph, choosing him to carry the mantle of leadership in the family which is revealed in two dreams (5-11). In the first dream, the brothers are binding bundles of grain and Joseph’s bundle rose upright and his brother’s bundles gathered around and bowed to it. They correctly interpret this as Joseph ruling over them, causing them to hate him even more. In the second dream, the sun and the moon, representing his father and mother, and eleven stars, representing his brothers, bow down to him. When Joseph shares this dream with his family, his father rebukes Joseph for thinking that he will rule over the entire family. While the brothers are jealous because they suspect the dreams are true his father kept it in the back of his mind (9-11). The brother’s response is that of the natural man to God’s revelation and God’s election. On a human level, when God calls and gifts people they will sometimes experience hostility from others.
When the brothers go to pasture their flocks near Shechem their father asks Joseph to go check on them and report back to him (12-14). He is asking him to check on his brothers who hate him and are jealous of him in Shechem, of all places! But notice the way he responds, “here I am.” So Joseph, the obedient son, travels fifty miles north to Shechem and cannot find his brothers. A man finds him wandering around the fields and offers to help him. Joseph tells him that he is looking for his brothers and asks him if he knows where they are? The man knows who his brothers are and where they went! So Joseph travels another twenty miles further looking for his brothers (15-17). His brothers see him coming in the distance and conspire to kill him. They plan to kill this dreamer, throw him into the pits to see what becomes of his dreams (18-20). These pits were bottle shaped cisterns dug out of rock and plastered for collecting water. The brothers have rejected God’s choice to lead the family, rejected God’s revelation, and think they can thwart God’s plans (Isa 14:27; Job 42:2). Reuben, the oldest and responsible for Joseph’s welfare, convinces them to spare his life so he can rescue him and return him to their father (21-22). When Joseph arrives, they rip his robe off and throw him into a dry pit. Their hardness of heart is seen by their sitting and eating while he is yelling for help (Amos 6:6).